The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #100


A reader writes:

Not a whole lot of clues to go off of for this view. I did notice the absence of pickup trucks, which eliminates anywhere in North America. The drab grey buildings make me think of either Russia or China and the lack of leaves on the trees leads me to a more northern latitude, ruling out a good portion of China. So I did some map searches through various hilly areas of Russia looking for industrial/mining-type land uses with drab buildings – there are a lot of possibilities. I’m going to go with Novokuznetsk, Russia, although I was unable to locate the exact building/view.

Another writes:

Is it Tampere, Finland? Pretty much just a wild guess …


I looked at this one for quite some time, but I could find nothing to work with this time.  But it seems to look like the front range in Colorado to me.  I’ll guess Golden for no reason except it was the first place that came to mind.

From one of the contest’s most loyal followers, who lives up in Alaska:

Been doing some travel and took a vacation from the View contest (I have a few decent Views from Costa Rica that I’ll share when I get my photos downloaded).  Was hoping this week’s would be instantly identifiable so I could come back with a close guess, but it is not to be.  Still, I will take a crack because a couple of weeks ago I think only 25 folks entered.  I would hate to see this contest wither for lack of entries … This feels more like Europe than North America, but it still seems likely to be part of the more developed world based on the extent of roadside signs and markings, landscaping, and pollution control regulations that seem likely with those smokestacks.  But the distant city buildings seem like uninspired office towers and I can’t make out any old buildings that one might expect from a European city.  Maybe we’re in someplace that is newly industializing, or the old town is out of view.  In any case, the vegetation screams Oregon or Washington if we were in NA, but might fit with someplace like the Hungary if Europe.  I’ll go with the latter – picking a random city in topography that seems about right, even though I know I’m wrong because there aren’t enough red roofs …

Another starts on the right track:

This looks like either the iron mining areas along the French/Belgian border, but the downtown area off the right of the photo looks more American to me.  The north-central portion of the state of Alabama has the same terrain that appears in this photo. I would say Tuscaloosa, AL, but that downtown looks a little bigger.  So I’m going with Birmingham. The lack of trucks and SUVs does worry me, though … distinctly un-American!

Another nails the right location – the only reader to do so:

It’s amazing how much one can learn by looking closely at a random photo.

The slag heaps, called terrils in Belgium, indicate old coal mines.  The cars were definitely European, as was the blue no-parking sign. There are a lot of coal mines in Europe, but the license plates on the cars were special, the old-but-still-in-use Belgian plates that are shorter than the Euro norm (new cars get the longer, 7-digit ones).

There are a few tall buildings in the distance.  This narrows down the choice to either Charleroi or Liège, but after looking at some landscapes, I say Liège, looking over the Meuse river valley.  The one thing missing from the view is church spires, but it appears that the liègois like their churches down-to-earth.  It’s not the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen, but it has some great cooking, and an awesome new train station, designed by Calatrava.

The view is from the CHR Citadelle, the hospital built on the site of the old fortress protecting the city. I can’t find a floor plan, but here is my guess as to the window, on the 3rd floor of the northeast wing:

Chr liege

Hospitals in Belgium, and health-care in general here are very good. I’ve been in Brussels 11 years and have no complaints. I hope the photographer is feeling better.

An impressive win for what might be our most difficult contest yet (only a few dozen readers even tried to guess the view). From the photographer:

This was the view from my mother’s hospital room window in Liege, Belgium at 10:22 AM on Saturday, April 7th, 2012. I visited her from the US on that day. Her room was on the third floor. My mother was discharged to a nursing home in the same town about a week later.

I believe that the towers in front are the hospital incinerators. The hills on the left are old coal mines’ “Terrils“, which are the leftover residue of the coal that was dug out from the ground (I suppose Andrew would know this sort of sight from England). These ones lay very near Herstal, the birth place of Charlemagne. Further somewhere in the horizon line must lie Aachen, which was Charlemagne’s palace.

This week, for our 100th contest, we want to take a moment to spotlight the reader who has clearly dominated the game thus far, correctly answering more views than any other reader, often in great detail. (He secured his VFYW book prize with his Dakar, Sengal entry but has correctly guessed dozens more.)  We asked if our Grand Champion would like to reveal his identity and share some thoughts on the contest. Mike Palmer writes:

Wow! This is really cool!  But I definitely have to share the honor with my teammate Yoko, a nurse living in Osaka, Japan. I live in Laguna Niguel, California, and I’m an engineer (an electrical engineer, to be even more specific; I design integrated circuits).

Hmmm… Thoughts on the contest… Here are some quick thoughts, and some insight into how we find the windows:

I can echo what some of your other commenters and winners have said: it’s been really amazing to find out how similar so many places in the world are, and how different as well. No matter where the window is, it’s amazing how often we are able to pick out the location quickly based on a few small details.

The first window I found was in San Diego, and it only took a few minutes. That was the exception, but after that I was hooked. Most windows, even when we know the general location, take hours of searching, with every tool at our disposal. I often have Google Earth running on my tablet PC, and Google maps, Bing maps, Flickr and Panoramio open on the PC. We start with general clues, and start searching for things that looks similar, expanding our search if we don’t seem to be on the right track. When we think we’re close, we start looking through travel sites in addition to everything else, to see if we can find similar views from hotel windows.

Even after the building is found, triangulating to the right window can be nearly as time consuming as finding the right place. Being halfway around the world, my teammate and I have only a little overlap. I see the window first, and usually send her an email in the afternoon, California time, letting her know what I’ve found. She is amazingly good at searching – especially through images – and there will often be an email waiting for me on Sunday morning, with the place and a photo with a possible window circled. Triangulating, documenting the window, and sending the email falls to me.

The view changes every week, but the thing never changes is the rush that comes with finding the window. That part never gets old.

We will send Yoko a prize right away.